In the course of writing vinyl record reviews, DJing, doing Vinyl Road Rage and enjoying vinyl at home, the Turntabling gear list has gotten quite interesting. At least three different models are in active use for a variety of purposes so it seems appropriate to list them here, complete with links to purchase or learn more if you like. Transparency alert–yes, these are affiliate links which do support the website should you choose to buy.
It should be understood that these models are not necessarily the absolute best audiophile quality models in the whole world. They were chosen for functionality after some research and it can be honestly said that each of the models listed here do the job they’re supposed to do and they are a welcome part of the gear list.
The only reason they might not be purchased a second time has more to do with wanting to see what else is out there as opposed to not being happy with the models themselves…
This is the model I DJ with when doing Paisley Babylon shows, mash-ups, and audio experimentation. The Audio Techica AT120LP USB turntable been used to record Paisley Babylon albums and I even use it as a photo model when shooting pics for the WTF Records book.
The price point on the AT120LP USB is about $250, which is why I own three of them. It features a built-in preamp, pitch adjustment, USB connectivity and selectable output. The preamp makes it heavy and a pain in the arse to lug around to gigs (especially when you have to cart three of the damn things) but overall I’m pleased with the performance of this Audio Techica direct drive turntable. It’s the pro gear portion of my setup, and while there are definitely better turntables out there at higher prices, I am quite happy with this unit.
The Crosley Revolution battery powered portable turntable has a variety of features that make it perfect for taking on the road during Vinyl Road Rage. First, it’s battery powered AND has a USB power option. It has a headphone jack, an internal speaker, or you can output via USB. It is extremely portable, small, and easy to use on the road.
Is it the best sounding turntable out there? Well, it’s designed to be portable and small, so obviously this is not what you’re using to enjoy the subtle nuances of that Nurse With Wound LP.
But it is an awesome, affordable way to do a vinyl blog on the road with actual vinyl. I made several videos with the Crosley and was pleased enough with the results to take it back out on the road for the next Vinyl Road Rage cross-country blogging tour.
Picky audiophiles shouldn’t even be reading this section, but the rest of us who love vinyl regardless of whether you get massive audio fidelity or not will have no qualms with this as a traveling companion. It has wonderful potential for impromptu DJ parties using the FM-band broadcast feature…buy two of them and you see where the possibilities are. I’ve mentioned before that the Crosley Revolution turntables could be used for a crazy DJ busking concept, but beware playing your vinyl in the direct sunlight, folks.
I have one of these in the living room and use it recreationally. I have used it to digitize vinyl records in the past, but the software requires some babysitting and it’s really not my bag…I prefer to play the vinyl instead while at home anyway and for that purpose the ION TTUSB USB turntable is a decent middle-of-the-road performer.
Nothing fancy, no outrageously mind-blowing quality but fairly dependable. It’s smaller than my pro gear, lightweight, and easy to use. I call it a “fun” turntable instead of a “serious” model like the AT120LP. It looks nice and modern, does what its told, and doesn’t complain.
The ION TTUSB is a belt-driven turntable (as opposed to a direct-drive model without the “rubber band”, as some call it, to spin the platter) which will turn off a hard-core audiophile–but that’s not the market for this ION model. It is a decent entry-level record player that can serve a new collector well.
That said, my own personal complaint with this model is that the large white start/stop buttons on my unit became a bit unresponsive over time. Dust is probably the issue there, so keep your ION TTUSB covered when it’s not in use, which should delay that issue for a longer time.
Price point on this ION model is around $175. For about hundred more you can get the Audio Technica AT120LP USB direct drive turntable which is pro-quality and will last forever with good care…but some may not like the larger size and increased weight of the Audio Technica mentioned above. The ION is much lighter and more portable, so it really boils down to what you prefer in your turntable–does portability matter to you? Or are you interested in higher quality? Either way, you have some decent choices here.